Under The Influence: Night Lights Bring Nostalgia & Danceability To Alt Pop
Los Angeles-based trio, Night Lights, have found a place of their very own in music. It’s a place where they can share themselves authentically and confidently through their Alternative Pop sound. The group consists of vocalist Mau Jimenez, guitarist Yusuke Sato, and drummer Dag Hanken. Night Lights has straddled the line between Pop and Rock, infusing notes of Soul. With music as a safe space, the trio anchor a sense of community, hold onto their gracious ideals and explore experimentation. Together they bridge multicontinental roots into their highly danceable tracks. In their latest single ‘Talk To Me,’ the group takes on a nostalgic twist that expands beyond their messages of existentialism.
The release of ‘Talk To Me’ drew much attention, being called an “indie ballad” by Billboard. In this exclusive interview, Night Lights share how they are constantly pushing forward in the music industry, how they feel about shifting musical genres, and rich insights on their latest single.
Listen to ‘Talk To Me’ By Night Lights
Can you share with us what brought Night Lights together as a group?
The band formed in 2012 in Boston. We were all there studying music. It all started with Dag and Mau becoming friends. Mau wanted to start a band with friends that had similar passions for people, community, and great core values. It wasn’t however until 2014 that the Yusuke finally joined the crew and the core of the band became what it is today.
As a group with members from all over the world, how has this affected your career and ability to create music together?
It has really pushed us to focus on the process of making music in the States because it is the only thing we can do to make money. The United States has pretty strict laws when it comes to visas and the kind of visa we have only allows us to work within the industry of music. It has been a very challenging hurdle since we can’t work at a bar or coffee shop or restaurant to make ends meet. We have to stay focused and support each other which has made us into a tight knit family.
Which artists and/or groups are major influences to your style of music? How have they impacted your career and sound?
Radiohead, Mutemath, Phoenix, Tame Impala, Foo Fighters, and the 1975, just to name a few. We are constantly listening to past and present music to keep our ears fresh and grounded. Our sound, however, has always attempted to be different. Of course we are influenced by the music that is around us, the sound scapes and all that. However, we really really think that we have found a place of our own. Hopefully so much so that someday people use us as a staple band that influences their sound.
There seems to be a cultural shift in music where many artists are moving away from large genre’s like rock or pop, and craving their own path. What is your opinion on this subject?
I think it’s inevitable. Music has always wanted to evolve and mutate. If anything, Rock, Blues and Pop and all the genres that were evolutions of a previous form of music. We just notice the changes quicker and more dramatically because of the globalization of everything. We personally love it. Mixing genres is essential to feeling and understanding our world better. So long as the exploration and experimentation allows us to feel something more deeply and sincerely.
What does indie rock/pop mean to you? How do you define your musical genre?
Indie rock has mutated from what we think it was initially. It used to mean independent music, which meant people made the artistic choices on their own without a label or A&R deciding what would hit harder or sell more. I think that became a sound people tried to achieve. We think we are more of an alternative pop. As in, we write things that can appeal to the popular demand of music, but it isn’t cookie cutter pop devised by a crew of people to sell more or with the intention of appealing to a certain demographic. It is an alternative to the popular trends, but still in that vein. We are technically indie because we are independant of any labels at the time.
Community and conversation are important to your group, can you describe how this shows up in your music?
I think it’s in our name and inevitably bleeds into our music. We are called Night Lights because night lights shine a light in the darkness to keep the monsters away. We think that our music shines a light to our darkness and that through singing about it, the people that enjoy our music can find solace. Then our music becomes a safe space to let all that crap go.
You have a new single “Talk to Me,” and as the story goes the song was written in one hour. Can you share what the creative process was like while writing, producing and/or recording the song?
It was a fun challenge that came to pass through canceling a session. We didn’t want to waste the time, so we decided to make good use of the time and write a song in an hour. When you limit the amount of time you have to get something done, the inner critic doesn’t have a strong of a say in things. Mau was taking charge of lyrics and melody while Dag and Yusuke took care of arrangement and production. After an hour we came up with the concept of the song and the skeletons behind it. If we’re honest, we did not finish the full song in that hour. We still had to edit and polish what we did to get it where it is now, but it was a refreshing experience for sure.
Were there any intentional lyrics featured in the song? If so, what are they and what is the meaning behind them?
The whole song is intentional! Mau is a dreamer and a hopeless romantic and he was reminiscing on high school when he brought up the topic of everyone’s first loves. We all wondered what they were doing now. If they were married and if not, if something was still there from what we felt. It became kind of a reflection of those thoughts. For sure Mau put in some personal stuff like chasing the dream and falling in love with the techno machines and finding his soul in the vinyl stacks.
What do you hope listeners take away from listening to “Talk to Me” and your music as a whole?
I hope they can have some cool nostalgic experiences with it. That they can sing it to loved ones from the past or from the present. That it makes them want to dance and smile a ton. It’s a fun song, so have fun with it. This isn’t the one where you listen and some sort of existential topic just hits you upside the head, it’s meant to be what it is: a fun song to make you remember and dance.
Are you working on any new projects? Do you have any upcoming performances?
Always! We have a bunch more songs coming up and are always thinking of new ways to connect with our audience and share our music.
Is there anything else you would like to share or want fans to know?
We hope you all enjoy what you hear and that you want to hear more and more of it. We will keep making it!
Watch The Official Music Video for “Talk To Me” By Night Lights